Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??

 
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Old 03-03-2012, 12:42 PM   #1
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Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


First off I am not an electricain, only a remodeling contractor with a bit of electrical knowledge looking for some insight. I am only pursing this issue due to the electrician is gone for several days.
Two days ago a customer called and was having an issue trying to shut down a circuit to install a new ceiling fan. The breaker would flip to the off position but still had juice at the ceiling box. I suggested possibly the breaker was mismarked or it was double fed and to try the other breakers to shut it down. Nothing worked so they called their electrician. He assessed the situtation and found the same so they removed the box cover and found puddles of water setting on the breakers! I guess he even got a jolt while inspecting the breakers due to the water between the breakers.
The homeowener calls back and says the roof I put on two yrs ago is leaking, I said it can't be, we haven't had ANY moisture other than light frost for over two months. I inspected the inside of the attice no sign of moisture any where, although I can't get near the electrical mast but can see the insulation, it looks all dry, dirty and fluffy. I also inspected the roof boot and it is still sealed very well.
The electrician left the box cover off to help dry it out and the next moringing the homeowner calls and says there is water dripping out of the mast pipe. I go over and have a look cause I can't believe what they are telling me. Sure enough the water is dripping from the inside of the mast pipe and running down the main lines till it drips off of them on to the main breaker and on down through the panel. At this point this is more than baffelling.
The wall cavity is 2x4's, so there more than likely isn't any insulation between the box and outside wall. What I can see around the box appears that there is insulation in the cavity. The one concerning aspect is that the dryer and washer are in this room within 4 feet of the breaker box, along with the dryer vent pipe in the same stud cavity as the box. Could this be causing enough humdity and tempature change in the mast pipe to cause condensation?? I am going to pull the dryer vent off and make sure there isn't any obstruction or a hole in the pipe allowing warm moist air in the wall cavity. The only other idea that goes along with the added warm moist air is the mast stands about 4' above the roof projection giving alot of pipe to be cold versus the approximate 4' of pipe inside the wall cavity that would be considerably warmer. Is there any way to insulate the mast pipe? Any one got a better idea on the problem and an even better fix?
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Old 03-03-2012, 12:49 PM   #2
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


If the water is only from condensation, I'd guess that would be pretty well cured by simply sealing off the mast pipe so that warm moist air from inside the house can't rise up through it and dump the water as it cools.

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Old 03-03-2012, 03:17 PM   #3
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


Why does the dryer vent in the same cavity as the box? Is it in front of it?

If so, that violates code (open area in front of panel).

However, washer & dryer will put a lot of humidity into the room by themselves.

If you've got condensation occurring, in my opinion, it's most likely coming from a combination of the factors you're describing.

My suggestions:

1.) Get the vent out of the same cavity.
2.) Vent shortest run possible.
3.) Seal dryer vent joints with aluminum ductwork tape.
4.) Check humidity level in the room before/during/after laundry. If necessary, install de-humidifier.
5.) Depending on the extent of the moisture & time it has been occurring, you may need to replace the panel & breakers.
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Old 03-03-2012, 09:56 PM   #4
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


This house was built in the late 70's, and codes in my region have never been a high importance and in no way inforced in any way.
Although they are becoming more important and more acknowledged.

Venting out the same cavity as the electrical box is the shortest route 3'. Also its really the only option without moving the dryer and washer to a new wall and the exterior is brick, not that I can't deal with the brick.

When I replace the dryer tube I will seal the seem with duct tape.

They had checked the humidity levels last nite and this morning and it ranged from 30% - 45%. I did setup a dehumidifier and let it run 24 hrs.

According to the electrician the deterioration of breakers does warrant replacing the guts of the box. Also the main feed lines have to much corrosion on them and need to be replaced.
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Old 03-04-2012, 09:33 AM   #5
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


I'm with tin on this one.

The moisture levels in the room are probably high.
The air pressure in the room is probably higher than outside. This could be a result of a leak in the dryer venting or inadequate return air from the room. In any event, it appears that the warm moist air in the room is escaping out through the panel. When that warm moist air contacts a cool/cold surface (the mast) the moisture condenses.

Fix this by eliminating the potential for air to flow out through the service entrance. Block the air flow.
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Old 03-04-2012, 11:45 AM   #6
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


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Originally Posted by thom
I'm with tin on this one.

The moisture levels in the room are probably high.
The air pressure in the room is probably higher than outside. This could be a result of a leak in the dryer venting or inadequate return air from the room. In any event, it appears that the warm moist air in the room is escaping out through the panel. When that warm moist air contacts a cool/cold surface (the mast) the moisture condenses.

Fix this by eliminating the potential for air to flow out through the service entrance. Block the air flow.
That's all well & dandy, but wouldn't it be better to handle the source of the moisture instead of just forcing it to go someplace else?

Mold, mildew, damaged wall & ceiling surfaces, appliances rusting out anyone?

Just plugging the pipe is only 1 step in the process to me.

I operate my company in a way that goes above & beyond for my customers, but that's just me. Your plan may vary.....
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Old 03-04-2012, 12:04 PM   #7
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


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Originally Posted by svronthmve View Post
That's all well & dandy, but wouldn't it be better to handle the source of the moisture instead of just forcing it to go someplace else?

Mold, mildew, damaged wall & ceiling surfaces, appliances rusting out anyone?
No mention has been made of such dire conditions. Air inside the home will always carry more moisture than outside in cold weather. I do agree that if the room is like a steambath, that should be addressed--but the situation as described so far doesn't sound like that.
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Old 03-04-2012, 12:27 PM   #8
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


I would use a good quality duct tape and not the typical tape people refer to as "Duct Tape". That crap dries out quickly and is really not meant for ducts.

Also, I understand this is your customer, but I'd let the electrician handle the electrical service issue.

Sometimes the easy route isn't the best route. Don't rule out replacing the whole panel and SECs. That may be the best fix for your situation.
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Old 03-04-2012, 01:07 PM   #9
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


I would suggest tracking the mast and opening up holes along the way to make sure that there is proper insulation. I had an experience a few months back with a customer who had water dripping from a light in her closet. Sure enough the pipe ran in the attack with poor insulation. I wrapped the pipe and have had no issues since. I suggested more insulation in the attic, but haven't followed up.

And even more recently my SIL had a leak in her garage. Discovered the dryer exhuast was not insulated nor the area above the garage where it was located. Insulated the pipe and she is good to go.

I know that my examples are basic, but so is your problem. You just need to do some digging to find out where the hot and cold air are meeting.

Hope that helped.

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Old 03-04-2012, 06:33 PM   #10
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


We always put a wad of duct seal in the mast head
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Old 03-04-2012, 07:19 PM   #11
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


Went back today and took the dryer vent apart everything looks to be intact there I did take some silver tape and seal the middle seam on the pipe, not that anything looked bad just a precaution.

After running the dehumidifier for 24 hrs the humidity in the laundry room without running the washer or dryer was down to 30% a more acceptable level. There was NO dripping water today also, but it didn't get below freezing last nite either, so that could play a part in that.

I will talk to the electrician first thing in the morning since I have not been able to talk with him since the situtation arose and see what his recomendations are also.
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Old 03-04-2012, 08:07 PM   #12
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


I think that's the best idea.

This forum is great and helpful. But, the advice you receive is usually based solely off of either your written post, your pictures or both. What's lacking is a good, fact-finding assessment of entire situation needing repair, which only you have done.

Looking forward to reading more on this issue.
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Old 03-04-2012, 11:01 PM   #13
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


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Originally Posted by jb4211
I think that's the best idea.

This forum is great and helpful. But, the advice you receive is usually based solely off of either your written post, your pictures or both. What's lacking is a good, fact-finding assessment of entire situation needing repair, which only you have done.

Looking forward to reading more on this issue.
I believe I, as well as others here, have provided some fact finding details that have already been put into place & yielded + results. And I didn't make a site visit.....Seen similar situations before & have years of experience...

But thanks for the slam anyway!
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:52 PM   #14
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


Wondering if anyone checked the chalking around the outside conduit especially above the meter feed. I had to have my whole 200 amp panel replaced because of water driping in between the main pull feeds. The main breaker failed and bus was rusted.
the cable feed into the meter the putty around the top was dry and brittle and water leaked in a $5 Preventive maintenance cost me $1200 for new GE 200 amp 40 slot with new breakers
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:02 PM   #15
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


Quote:
Originally Posted by svronthmve

I believe I, as well as others here, have provided some fact finding details that have already been put into place & yielded + results. And I didn't make a site visit.....Seen similar situations before & have years of experience...

But thanks for the slam anyway!
Not slamming you or anyone. I think you're missing the point; rather than process what I was saying jumped to full blown defensive mode.

Maybe you're better than most and don't require a site visit to best assess the situation prior to outlining a plan of attack as far as repair is concerned. I can't. I almost always need to see the problem personally.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:17 PM   #16
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


In my area, we are required to stuff duct seal (basically modeling clay) into the section of the pipe where the pipe enters the house. It's not to seal out water, but to reduce the temperature differences between outside and inside piping, thus reducing the condensation.

I'll bet this will eliminate the problem.
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Old 03-05-2012, 10:09 PM   #17
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


Talked with the electrician and informed him what I found out over the weekend with everything. The one question that arose amoungst us was is it possible to insulate the mast pipe above the roof line some how? If you don't insulate the pipe inside or outside abouve the roof and seal the weatherhead and the bottom of the pipe you could still have a very small but potential possibility for condensation. Could you use low expansion inside the mast pipe?
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Old 03-05-2012, 10:12 PM   #18
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


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In my area, we are required to stuff duct seal (basically modeling clay) into the section of the pipe where the pipe enters the house. It's not to seal out water, but to reduce the temperature differences between outside and inside piping, thus reducing the condensation.

I'll bet this will eliminate the problem.
I will pass this on and this sounds like a great idea. Whats the best way to get it 3' down a pipe to where the pipe enters the roof/attic?
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Old 03-06-2012, 05:23 PM   #19
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


Quote:
Originally Posted by jb4211

Not slamming you or anyone. I think you're missing the point; rather than process what I was saying jumped to full blown defensive mode.

Maybe you're better than most and don't require a site visit to best assess the situation prior to outlining a plan of attack as far as repair is concerned. I can't. I almost always need to see the problem personally.
Wasn't being defensive, just responded to what you wrote.

Sometimes I also need to do a site visit. We all do at times. That's ok.

I, personally, just thought your remark came across as a bit condescending. Perhaps it wasn't meant that way. If it wasn't, I offer a sincere apology for misunderstanding....
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Old 03-06-2012, 06:44 PM   #20
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Re: Water Dripping In Breaker Box, Condensation??


Quote:
Originally Posted by svronthmve

Wasn't being defensive, just responded to what you wrote.

Sometimes I also need to do a site visit. We all do at times. That's ok.

I, personally, just thought your remark came across as a bit condescending. Perhaps it wasn't meant that way. If it wasn't, I offer a sincere apology for misunderstanding....

I also apologize. I try not to be condescending. That only makes people stop asking questions and a very dull forum. No one knows everything. One thing about these short posts is it's difficult to convey the feeling behind the words.

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